I fell in love with theatre at the very tender age of 12, at a time of searching… Theatre is a fabulous discipline within the world of expressive, performing arts. It has the power to get you out of your shell (or carapace, according to armour thickness!) and it teaches you a myriad of life skills. It is a lifelong craft that each of us develop in our own ways. It has the magic of unveiling a kaleidoscope of emotions, which we learn to harness as we journey through life, the wider stage 🙂
Every experience records its catalogue of fond memories. From the primal steps – with Le Théâtre 80 d’Amiens under the joint direction of Françoise Longeard & M-L Debourle back in 1981 – to NTS’s Ignition, under the joint direction of Wils Wilson and John Haswell (2012-13).
And if 2013 began with unchartered territory, mobile theatre, thanks to friend & playwright Jacqui Clark, who invited me to take the extra mile with Ignition, the year ended with a very similar experience – pantomime, thanks to friend & Mrs Theatre in Shetland, Izzy Swanson.
Although I have spent over thirty years learning to tread the boards from both sides of La Manche & half my life bathing inside British culture (my teaching time at The BRIT School for the Performing Arts included) the tradition of panto was totally alien to me till last Yuletide, when my peerie South African sister took me to see one at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. The child within laughed & applauded so shamelessly & heartedly.
When Izzy tailored me a part for Aladdin, this year’s major Shetland production, I embraced this brand new adventure! I was warned of a huge commitment till the winter solstice, but what a voyage – fabulous human adventure! Hours of rehearsals, friendships woven from unknown threads, sealed both on and backstage. The joy to forget it all once we slip inside our characters… “Belonging to a Director on the pain of death”
Open Door Drama did not only welcome me with open arms, but allowed me to start flourishing among the group.
Hours, days, weeks of sheer toil, devotion, laughters, madness filled the latter part of autumn…
Pantomime is outrageous; it pushes you to (and beyond!) your (more or less) known limits. It is a form of theatre that incorporates music, a chorus line, under the joint musical direction of Jane McLaren & Norman Wilmore, into acting – it makes you do just about anything! It is fun above all 🙂
And when we stepped inside Lerwick’s Garrison Theatre, it took a whole new dimension. From the scheduled tech rehearsals in early December till the performance run (9-21/12) we invested the dressing rooms & metamorphosed for the audience’s pleasure, as well as our own as a troupe.
And who did we turn into every night? Hmmm, here are some of us 🙂
our two heroes, Aladdin (left) & his brother, Wishy-Washy
their mother, Widow Twankey
their sweethearts, Princess Balabour & Lady-in-waiting, Sue-Shi
Balabour’s folks, the Empress Ming-In (left) the Emperor Ming (right) & his vocal servant (centre)
their own Imperial Standard, as The Lord High Chamberlain
the two rogues, Abanazer & his servant, Karjac (left)
Spirit of The Ring
Bish, Bash & Bosh (from right to left) the Imperial Guards
Genie (of the Lamp)
the joyous Chorus
our Three Geezers
As part of the anecdote, have never ended up my final repartie with a raspberry to so many good folk in my life (before!) – but it was part of the panto, and what a scream!
Treasured memories forever tattooed in my heart. The afterwards’ party & Award Ceremony remain private among cast, supportive crew and Directors… Within the four walls of the Garrison Theatre, that is ;0)
Thank you, everyone – troupe & wonderful audience, you know who You are 🙂
Molière once shouted “vive le théâtre!”
May you all reign & shine for a thousand years